If you've ever done SEO work for a business that leverages affiliate relationships, the phenomenon recently dubbed "Google Bowling" is nothing new. Hotel chains, home mortgage resellers, and travel agencies brokering cruises and cheap airfares indiscriminately rob top search results from business partners and rivals alike.

The intent to do harm to another business on the Web adds a new twist to the age-old issue of bad linking strategies. Google's ongoing attempts to curb search result manipulation by way of link popularity appear to have reached fruition with its latest algorithmic update.

The good news is by link dampening, filtering, and, in some cases, penalizing sites that purchased or sought out low-value incoming links en mass, Google has finally instituted a way to make search results for highly competitive terms more relevant.

The bad news is some legitimate businesses always seem to have their search positions washed away by improved results. If your results have been affected by the latest Google update, don't despair. You can do much to move out of a bad-link neighborhood into a better one.

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